For local wrestling teams, tough tests await

Locust Grove or Ola had little time to relish their successful matches at the State Wrestling Duals in Macon on Thursday.

The Wildcats’ 49-24 victory over Lithonia meant they moved on in the Class AAAA bracket to face a Carrollton team with several nationally-ranked wrestlers today.

The Mustangs’ reward for a 36-24 victory over Effingham County is a match against perennial contender Loganville in Class AAAAA.

“When you get to the state duals, it’s all about match-ups,” Ola coach Joey DiNino said. “We had a tough match early on. ... It’ll be pretty much the same with Loganville.”

Both Locust Grove and Ola found things tougher than they expected in the first round.

The Wildcats seemingly cruised to the win with individual victories from Sean Turner (120), Peter Baus (138), Brandon Benson (145), Emilio Conde (152), Chaz Brown (160), Jacob Austin (170), Joseph Farrell (182) and Tyler Rapes (195).

But Locust Grove defeated Lithonia by 35 points in a previous dual this season.

This time the win didn’t feel as crisp to Locust Grove coach Nick Fordham.

“We didn’t wrestle quite as good as I thought we could have,” Fordham said. “We’re going to try to re-group and face a great wrestling program. Hopefully we come out of the gate ready to wrestle.”

DiNino liked the way his Mustangs, especially given the strategy Effingham County used.

The Rebels bumped wrestlers into different weight classes hoping to get the best match-up available.

And it almost worked.

“We knew going into it it would be a pretty tough duals meet for us,” DiNino said. “They’ve got some tough kids.”

But Ola got wins from Seth Osbourne (106), C.J. Colliers (120), Hunter Hogan (132), Jordan Germany (138), Ian Wilson (145), Aaron Branch (170), Jaden Smith (182) and Jimmy Carman (195) to move on.

“Hats off to our guys being able to overcome that kind of adversity,” DiNino said. “We just kind of wrestled tough and won the meet.”

Eagle’s Landing couldn’t over a strong Alexander squad. The Golden Eagles got victories from Mark Tran (132), Stephen Maynard (160), Quin Thomas (182) and Xavier Fye (195), but it wasn’t enough against Alexander’s superior depth.

“We wrestled with a lot of heart,” Eagle’s Landing coach Mike Hutchings said. “We just didn’t have the firepower. Had a lot of close matches that swung the match.”

Eagle’s Landing faces Southwest DeKalb in the AAAA wrestleback bracket today.